Shouting slogans against alleged harassment, thousands of street vendors gathered at Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal’s office on Monday demanding immediate stoppage of the eviction drive.
The ongoing drive is being carried out by a Special Task Force created on directions of the Supreme Court to remove encroachments. The STF is working under an SC-mandated Monitoring Committee that has been tasked with sealing premises not functioning in conformity with the Delhi Master Plan -2021.
Alleging harassment in the name of “anti-encroachment drove”, a delegation of street vendors led by National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) national coordinator Arbind Singh met Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal. The L-G clarified that his office had no role in the Supreme Court order that allowed Delhi Police to evict hawkers, said a press release issued by NASVI, adding that Baijal assured the delegation that he would immediately convene a meeting of municipal commissioners and ensure there was no penal eviction action by municipal staff against the street vendors.
The L-G said he was also of the opinion that the Town Vending Committee should be formed as soon as possible, and asked NASVI to give corrective suggestions that he would take up with the urban development department.
The street vendors met after the audience with L-G and resolved that they would give two days’ time to the L-G to get the municipal action against them stopped.
The vendors said they would intensify their agitation if the promise was not fulfilled.
In a press statement issued last week, NASVI had said it had been trying to get an audience from the L-G and all commissioners of Delhi MCD to discuss the “brutal and barbaric eviction of street vendors in Delhi”. “Street Vendors are helpless in every corner of the city. We are continuously getting reports of evictions in the name of encroachments and it has worsened the situation in Delhi, it had said.
According to NASVI, the UPA-2 had brought in the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihoods and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014 in March 2014 but the Delhi government was yet to implement the Act.
“The Act makes it clear street vending is a right, it is legal and that arbitrary evictions cannot take place. However, in spite of such an Act being in force, police officials and the Delhi Municipal Bodies violate the Act,” said the statement.